A big day on the trail today, with female musher Aily Zirkle moving up from 14th on Sunday to first place, overtaking seven other mushers between the Rainy Pass and Rohn checkpoints with a pace of 9.17MPH.
The time between first and second place is incredibly tight, with only nine minutes separating Aily Zirkle and her team from Kelley Griffin, another female musher who also made huge gains on the rest of the pack during the night. Griffin is setting a more conservative pace than Zirkle, averaging 8.17MPH en route to the sixth checkpoint at Nikolai.
With 75 miles separating Rohn and Nikolai, the slow and steady mushers have an opportunity to make some big moves today.
Lead mushers are expected to arrive later this morning to the Nikolai checkpoint, so be sure to check back this afternoon for another Iditarod update!
*side note: two out of the three lead mushers are women? You go girls!
It has begun! The ceremonial start of the 40th annual Iditarod race is underway, with Ray Redington Jr. (son of Iditarod founder Joe Redington) currently leading the pack out of Anchorage, Alaska along an 11 mile stretch of trail to Campell Airstrip in preparation for tomorrow's official start.
This year, 66 teams have entered the race that snakes its way across 975 miles of snow-covered wilderness from Anchorage to Nome, a trip that can take anywhere from 8 to 15 days in optimal conditions.
Check back in with I Has a Hot Dog tomorrow for recap coverage of the ceremonial start, official start information, and don't forget to join in the captioning fun by visiting our doggy lol builder!
See you on the trail!
With 30 of the 66 teams already resting at Takotna, the eighth checkpoint along the Iditarod trail, this year's race is on pace to be the fastest ever recorded.
Takotna is situated over 350 miles from Anchorage and only 623 miles from Nome. Most mushers have chosen this checkpoint as the location to take their 24 hour break, and there has been little change in the top standings as a result.
Aliy Zirkle is still in first place, with John Baker holding on tight to second. Surprisingly, Lance Mackey has slipped from third to 32nd place and has decided to take a long rest at McGrath, rather than push his team the final 18 miles to Takotna.
Taking Mackey's place behind Zirkle and Baker is Mitch Seavey, the 2004 Iditarod champion and veteran musher who had to withdraw last year at Ophir after severely injuring his fingers with an axe. Seavey is fielding an almost identical team to the one he ran in 2011 and should be considered a serious contender for this year's Iditarod race.
For current standings, checkpoint interviews, and in-depth Iditarod news visit Iditarod.com!
John Baker is a veteran Iditarod competitor, native Inupiat Alaskan, and the first Alaska Native Iditarod Champion in 35 years.
In the video above, John Baker talks about his feelings and emotions when crossing the finish line to the sound of native drums and cheering fans, as well as his dogs, his strategy, and what it takes to compete in the world's toughest race.
To find out more about John Baker and his 2012 Iditarod team, visit teamjohnbaker.com!